Donald Trump or Joe McCarthy–Who’s worse?

McCarthy Laughing by Yale Joel

Senator Joe McCarthy (photo by Yael Joel)

Growing up in Milwaukee in the 1950’s, I was acutely aware of Senator Joe McCarthy and his pernicious witch hunt for alleged communists. He wreaked enormous damage and ruined numerous lives before he was brought down, but it’s nothing compared to what Donald Trump could do—indeed, what he’s already done—to damage our country.

I was especially tuned in to McCarthy’s doings because my father, Wallace “Chink” Lomoe, was Managing Editor of the Milwaukee Journal, then a nationally respected liberal newspaper, which offered up-close investigative journalism throughout the McCarthy era.

Back then, at the height of the cold war, Communism, and Russia in particular, struck terror into the heart of Americans, and rightly so. Less than ten years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, worldwide nuclear annihilation was a genuine threat, and I never expected to live long enough to turn 21.

Trump smiling

Donald Trump

Fast forward sixty-odd years to today’s surrealistic political scene, where Donald Trump openly kisses Vladimir Putin’s ass and encourages Russia to hack into American computers to uncover classified information. He’s far crazier, far more dangerous than McCarthy ever was, and as the Republican nominee for President, he’ll soon have access to classified information.

I could ramble on and on, but plenty of media pundits are already doing that, so instead, I’ll offer up the following poem, which I wrote in 2010. At the very least, it should offer you a few minutes of diversion.

My Mother and Senator Joe

My mother stands in the kitchen,

hands busy at the red Formica countertop

with cratered moon design, assembling a tuna casserole,

one of her six recycled recipes unchanged since World War II.

Eager for tales from the trenches of the Journal newsroom,

we await my father’s coming. Once a promising reporter,

now the Managing Editor’s stay-home wife, my mother

plays out the Fifties dream of suburban bliss.

 

Daddy’s finally here. He mixes double dry martinis,

regales us with stories of his day. Senator Joe stopped by,

forgot his briefcase in my father’s corner office,

returned in panic to reclaim it. Daddy had been too ethical

to sneak a peek at those fabled lists of Communists,

or maybe he just ran out of time.

 

Later that spring, my mother and I ride the open tramway

deep in a subterranean tunnel beneath our nation’s capital,

sightseeing in sooty claustrophobic blackness

while far above us, cherry blossoms blaze in April sun

and Daddy hobnobs with his fellow editors in smoky hotel suites.

The roofless tram cars ferry politicians to and fro

shielded from public scrutiny on their appointed rounds,

like miners seeking coal.

 

The tram’s deserted now, except for Mom and me

and a smarmy thickset man with blackish bristles on his sagging jaw.

“What a pretty little girl,” he says, and smirks. My mother, ever gracious,

public smile fixed in place, exchanges pleasantries as the tram chugs onward

through the filthy darkness of the tunnel. At last we disembark

and go our separate ways. “Who was that nice man?” I ask. Her features morph

to a Medusa mask of  frightening fury.

“Don’t you ever call him a nice man again,” she snarls.

“That was Joe McCarthy.”

 

Later that night, back in our hotel room, I watch in helpless disbelief.  

She’s huddled on the carpet, head against the bed,

wracked by wrenching sobs. As in the blackened tunnel, once again

I’ve glimpsed a woman whose moods I scarcely know.

My childhood sense of safety teeters and cracks. “What’s wrong?” I ask.

She forces a teary smile. “Oh, nothing,” she says. “Don’t worry. I can’t imagine

what came over me.”

Subway Capitol system vintage

The Capitol subway in an undated vintage photo*

When I began this blog, I never intended to veer into politics, but this year I can’t seem to help it. Along with my ambitions as a writer, I seem to have inherited my parents’ political genes. As always, I’d love to hear your comments. Subscribe and stay tuned.

*I’m borrowing the McCarthy photo from the LIFE magazine collection, and the Getty credit seems appropriate. My father hired Edward K. Thompson, who later became LIFE’s Managing and then Executive Editor for many years and remained a close family friend.

*This vintage photo of the Capitol subway is much as I remember it from the early 1950’s. It still exists today in a much updated version, with three branches connecting the Capitol, house and senate buildings. Security is tight, and visitors are allowed only with close supervision.

Is Hillary too smart for her own good? Here are my thoughts, hot off the press from yesterday’s Times Union.

I wrote this piece for the Albany Times Union, and they published it yesterday!

Poor Hillary. Despite her outstanding qualifications, multiple polls show that a majority of Americans just plain don’t like her. But what’s not to like? I’ve seen and heard her multiple times, in person and on TV. In debates, she’s far more articulate and better informed than her rivals, and on the late night talk shows, she’s warm and funny. On Saturday Night Live, she was hilarious as a bartender bantering with Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary” character. Her close friends reportedly find her delightful.

Hillary & Kate McKinnon SNL

Hillary Clinton as bartender to Kate McKinnon’s “Hillary” on Saturday Night Live

So why don’t people like her? They come up with lots of reasons, but I believe the answer is simple: she’s just too damn smart. We don’t hear that explanation much, because most Americans don’t like to admit someone else is more intelligent than they are, especially if that someone is a woman. And the media pundits, especially those charged with filling the gaping maw of the 24/7 news cycle on TV and online don’t dare focus on this possibility, because it would mean acknowledging that some of us simply aren’t that bright. Highlighting the issue of intelligence might alienate the millions of viewers who prefer their news parceled out in easily digestible, endlessly repeated sound bites, and ratings might go down.

KISS cat

The KISS principle—keep it simple, stupid—applies to this campaign in spades. Coined in 1960 by an engineer at Lockheed, which manufactured spy planes for the Navy, the phrase originally applied to design but was broadened to the fields of marketing and sales, where it is also phrased as “Keep it simple and straightforward.” It doesn’t necessarily mean the target audience is stupid; rather, it suggests, that as Steve Jobs said when explaining the success of Apple products, “It all comes down to this: Let’s make it simple. Really simple.”

This is the crux of Hillary’s problem: she explains too much, delves into issues with such depth that she sometimes goes over the heads of people who aren’t policy wonks, thereby coming across as cold and intimidating, like that high school teacher or college professor who never cut you any slack and never gave you an A.

In contrast, consider the macho blowhards on the right and left wings of their parties. “Build the wall!” shouts Donald. “Down with Wall Street! Break up the banks!” rants Bernie. They hammer home the same talking points over and over again, painting themselves as anti-establishment outsiders, striking a strident but rousing chord with millions of disenchanted voters.

Trump hails from Queens and holds a B.A. from Wharton; Sanders grew up in Brooklyn and has a B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he’s said he was a mediocre student. They’re tough guys from the outer boroughs of New York City, and their political styles show it. Clinton, in contrast, is a high-achieving Ivy Leaguer, who got her B.A. from Wellesley and her law degree from Yale. Those exalted Ivies confer a status that can give you entrée into the corridors of power, but that very status can work against you, as I can attest. (I attended Radcliffe, Barnard and Columbia.)

Library University Club

When I was a child, being called a “brain” was an insult. That changed when I got to college.  But out in the wide world, I learned once again to play down my intelligence. Despite the supposed advances of feminism, women who come across as too smart are often resented, even hated, especially if they’re bold and assertive. That’s a societal prejudice Hillary will have to fight hard to overcome.

Julie Lomoe is a novelist who lives in Wynantskill. 

I’m pleased to say the Times Union didn’t change a word, other than adding the candidates’ last names. I took care to stay within their 600-word limit and did a careful editing job before sending it off, so this lends support to my claim that I’m my own best editor. I’ve already received lots of positive feedback.

I’m hoping the article will inspire new readers to discover my blog. If you’re one of them, welcome! Please subscribe so you’ll receive notification of new blog posts, and please explore this site for other topics of interest—especially my three published novels, which you can purchase from Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

I’d love to read your comments! Let’s start a dialogue about this all-important election.

Block Busting in the merry month of May

woman flaming typewriter cartoon

It’s just over a month till my workshop at the East Greenbush Library on June 4th. Here’s the description I sent for their newsletter:

BLOCK BUSTING:

HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE BARRIERS

THAT KEEP YOU FROM WRITING 

Writer’s block afflicts every author sooner or later. If you’ve ever found yourself paralyzed, staring at an empty piece of paper or a blank computer screen, you know the feelings of frustration and even downright panic that can keep you from writing. In this workshop for writers or would-be writers of all levels, we’ll explore the underlying feelings behind your personal blocks and learn a variety of techniques to help you overcome the barriers that keep you from reaching your fullest potential as a writer.

Julie Lomoe is a novelist and poet with over three decades of experience as a creative arts therapist and workshop leader. This workshop will use creative visualization and writing exercises along with a discussion of successful writers’ tips and techniques for overcoming creative blocks. Free handouts will include a tip sheet and bibliography. 

June 4th feels like a particularly auspicious day, because it’s my mother’s birthday. She died in 1970 of complications from a fall in the house she and my father were renting in Sarasota, Florida, to escape the frigid Wisconsin winters. She was only 61—an age that feels absurdly young to me now—and as a pre-feminist wife and mother, she never reached her full potential. But that’s a story for another time. June 4th is also the birthday of Gloria Tropp, the brilliant singer, poet and artist who was my best friend and matron of honor at my wedding to Robb Smith in 1975 when we lived in New York City, but Gloria deserves a blog post of her own.

So as the birthday of two strong, creative women who played such a significant role in my life,  June 4th is a special day, and I want to do them justice. But I have to admit that since I blogged about this workshop on March 21st, the first day of spring, I haven’t made much progress. Back then I wrote about how fear and habit are my major blocks to writing, and I described a typically pedestrian day in my life and all the distractions and feeble excuses that keep me from writing.

Cherry blossom tunnel, Sakuru, Japan

Cherry blossom tunnel, Sakuru, Japan

But May feels like the true beginning of spring, especially since my garden has finally been blessed with some truly drenching rain, and everything is greening up nicely. A good time for goal setting, and I’ve resolved to write at least 600 words a day, each and every day. Any and all forms of writing will count, including journaling, which I find a wonderful way of getting my creative juices flowing. Last night I churned out nearly a thousand words in half an hour, a relative breeze when I’m blathering away with no literary critic whispering nasty messages inside my head, telling me how inadequate I am as a writer.

The sheer physical act of typing has the power to awaken muscle memories that go deep underground and dormant when I’m not using them regularly, but I feel the energy seeping back into my mind and body even as I write these words. But distractions are creeping in—the sound of my cat Lunesta, her amazingly accurate inner clock kicking in as she scratches at my office door, reminding me it’s six o’clock and high time for dinner, my husband tempting me to abandon my writing with the offer of a roast beef sandwich. My own inner clock telling me it’s time for a glass of wine. But for May I’ve committed to abstaining from booze until I’ve reached my daily quota of 600 words. And now, by golly, I’ve done it. This blog post now contains 637 words, so I can legitimately sign off and indulge myself.

I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on creative block busting – either as comments or perhaps in an entire guest blog post. Please let me know if you’re interested!

Lunesta on printer 7-27-14

Hope Dawns Eternal makes The New York Times!

I’ve always been in awe of The New York Times, so it was thrilling to be interviewed by a Times reporter last Tuesday on New York’s primary day, and even more thrilling to find myself quoted in the next morning’s edition, and to discover that the reporter, Jesse McKinley, topped off his story with the title of my vampire soap opera novel, Hope Dawns Eternal. Here’s the poem I wrote to commemorate the occasion.

Hope Dawns in a Grungy Gun Club

Hope Dawns Eternal!

The New York Times, that great gray lady, gave me the last words

In the story “Voting at a Gun Club,”

Filed before the presidential primary was even over.

Inside, I’d traipsed the length of the grubby gray cinder-block building

At the Bailey Mountain Fish and Game Club,

Passed the yellowed illustrations of assorted guns,

Taped to the cheap pine paneled walls.

Passed the mounted deer heads, the sample ballots on collapsible tables,

Faced the row of portly aging men

Who smirked as I declared my party and signed the Democratic ledger.

They told me to remove the Women for Hillary button

Pinned to my dusty rose Old Navy fleece—no electioneering allowed

In this Inner Sanctum of democracy.

I blackened my chosen circles, fed my ballot into

The silvery maw of the machine,

Nostalgic for the heavy curtains, the leaden click of levers

Pushed down to reveal the red x’s of my choice.

 

When it was over, out in the sunlit clearing in the woods,

A blond young man in casual sports attire, reporter’s pad in hand,

Approached and asked if I could spare the time to talk.

Over his shoulder, a photographer snapped away

As I stumbled over half-baked opinions,

While my inner critic cursed my lack of originality,

Stringy hair and nearly nonexistent makeup.

 

When the questions wound down, I asked what paper he was with,

Thinking Schenectady or maybe Troy.

The New York Times, he said, in a near-apologetic mumble

Like the one I use when I say I’ve gone to Harvard and Columbia.

I told him of my father, managing editor of The Milwaukee Journal

Back in the fifties heyday of McCarthyism. He was suitably impressed.

Almost as an afterthought, I told him I was a novelist,

Rummaged in my purse, handed him a postcard for Hope Dawns Eternal,

My vampire soap opera novel.

 

That night I binged on TV primary returns, rejoiced for Hillary.

Woke Wednesday morning, guardedly hopeful,

But dubious I’d made the cut. He’d no doubt talked to lots of people,

And I’d said nothing especially quote-worthy,

Let alone worthy of The New York Times.

My ever tech-savvy husband grabbed his cell,

Googled my name and news, and said, “You made it.”

I commandeered the phone, scrolled down,

And there I was at the very end of the article,

Sounding surprisingly articulate.

When I reached the last lines, I shrieked:

“An amateur novelist, she pressed a pamphlet

For her vampire novel into a reporter’s hand.

Its title: Hope Dawns Eternal.”

 

He chose it as a closing metaphor, I’m sure,

But to me, such synchronicity feels like a blessing.

I’m not big on higher powers,

But maybe something somewhere is looking out for me

And success is in the stars.

Of course I’ll have to work my butt off,

But I can legitimately say,

“As featured in The New York Times.”

My parents, with their lost, unpublished novels,

Would be proud.

I premiered the poem yesterday at my women writers group and last night at POETS SPEAK LOUD, a monthly open mic at McGeary’s Tavern in Albany, where I was featured poet. I got a warm reception both times, and I hope you’ll enjoy it too, regardless of your political persuasion.

Here’s a direct link to the New York Times article:

http://www.nytimes.com/live/new-york-primary-2016/at-a-gun-club/

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]

Michael Easton’s mysterious doctor Hamilton Finn

Michael Easton as Finn shooting up 4-8-16

Michael Easton as Hannibal Finn

It’s been two weeks since Michael Easton returned to General Hospital as the mysterious doctor Hamilton Finn—three episodes per week, for a grand total of six, and in half of them he’s been shown shooting up with some mysterious substance from a gigantic syringe. We don’t yet know the contents, but the phases he goes through from craving to semi-stoned satisfaction give him a wonderful opportunity to show off his acting chops, something he couldn’t do as the tightly controlled John McBain and Silas Clay.

Like most fans, I don’t believe he’s shooting up an illicit drug, at least not of the opioid variety, but it could well be something experimental he brought back from his travels in Australia and heaven knows where else, perhaps something derived from his “service lizard,” the bearded dragon Roxy that he’s keeping caged at the Metrocourt hotel.* He’s probably self-medicating in hopes of curing some exotic, potentially fatal disease.

michael-easton-hamilton-finn-lizard

Finn with his “service lizard,” the bearded dragon Roxy.

Fans are loving this latest reincarnation of Michael’s. He’s edgy, temperamental, quick to anger, with a sardonic sense of humor. Friday’s scene, when he was cajoling and shouting at Tracy to wake up following her brain surgery, was marvelous—she may have been near-comatose, virtually at death’s door, but how could she resist such a gorgeous doctor luring her back to life?

For me, this is by far the most fascinating character Michael has played since the late lamented vampire Caleb Morley on Port Charles. He’s already inspiring me to plunge back into Sunlight and Shadow, the sequel to my vampire soap opera novel Hope Dawns Eternal. My enthusiasm had flagged since they killed off Silas Clay last July 31st, which happened to be my birthday. But I’m eager to get back into the adventures of my Jonah McQuarry character, who’s just beginning to embrace his true identity as a vampire, and his lady love Abigail Hastings, who’s hiding more secrets than he can possibly imagine.

What are your theories about Dr. Hannibal Finn? Who is he, really? Why does he want to stay in Port Charles, and what characters will he become involved with? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if through his “service lizard,” he’s seeking a magical elixir that will give him eternal life? Then he’d be sure to stick around awhile.

Michael Easton as Finn brooding 4-8-16

*Thanks to Alison Armstrong for researching bearded dragons and posting an article from an Australian museum that states: “Recent research has indicated that Bearded Dragons possess primitive venom glands, the use of venom in dragon lizards is not yet understood, however a bite from this species should pose no long-term ill effect. The bite site should be cleaned with a mild disinfectant, as with any animal bite.” They rarely bite, however, but they do puff up their bodies, including the “beards” under their jaws, to appear more formidable to potential aggressors.

Please visit me at http://www.Amazon.com. Just type Julie Lomoe into the search box and all three of my books will come up: Hope Dawns Eternal, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders, and Eldercide. I could really use some sales!

Eldercide available now on Kindle

JuileLomoe_Eldercide2500jpg

At long last, my novel Eldercide is available on Kindle, and you’ll soon be able to buy a printed copy and other e-pub versions as well. I first published the novel in 2008, but it’s as timely as ever. Here’s what I wrote for the 4000-character description that people will see when they bring up the book on Amazon. If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them. Does this promo tempt you to buy the book?

When quality of life declines with age and illness, who decides if you’re better off dead? Nursing supervisor Claire Lindstrom suspects a killer is making the final judgment call for the clients of Compassionate Care. 

A woman with Alzheimer’s disease dies unexpectedly in the night. Another is found dead beside a stream. Claire sees the beginnings of a sinister pattern, but Paula Rhodes, her temperamental boss, doesn’t want her raising questions. The survival of the home health care agency in upstate New York depends on its reputation for quality care, and a rash of mysterious deaths could kill the business.

Claire antagonizes the county coroner and becomes the prime suspect in the eyes of the police. All the while, from his vantage point near her cottage on Kooperskill Lake, a killer called Gabriel is watching, channeling his obsession with Claire into passionate paintings. Under another name, he’s a man she already knows – but which one? And is he part of a far larger scheme of Eldercide, taking orders from a shadowy organization?

Author Julie Lomoe knows home health care from the ground up. After working as a creative arts therapist in a psychiatric hospital for over a decade, she founded ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York. As President and chief administrator, she handled quality assurance, human resources and marketing, while a nursing supervisor was responsible for patient care. A Registered Art Therapist and counselor with training in family therapy, Julie couldn’t legally provide hands-on care, so she became trained and certified as a Personal Care Aide. Filling in when other staff couldn’t be found, she learned the business at the most basic level, helping clients cope with their declining bodily functions, comforting Alzheimer’s patients through sleepless nights, waiting impatiently for relief staff to arrive. In the process, she developed enormous respect and empathy for the aides who make home care their life’s work, and Eldercide is dedicated to them.

As a small, start-up business facing stiff competition from established agencies, ElderSource built its reputation and case load with an ever increasing emphasis on round-the-clock live-in care, recruiting many of the aides from New York City. Compared to Compassionate Care, ElderSource had relatively smooth sailing. Some of the agency’s seriously ill clients died during the agency’s watch, but all of natural causes. But as ElderSource grew, so did Julie’s stress. Like Paula Rhodes, she agonized over meeting the payroll and packed on pounds while trying to cope by means of comfort food and antidepressants.

Eventually, realizing the agency could quite literally be the death of her, Julie transferred the staff and clients to another agency, and ElderSource closed its doors. Several years passed before Julie came to terms with the loss and gained the perspective she needed to explore the experience through fiction.

In the years since Julie first published Eldercide, the real-life issues and ethical questions raised in the novel have grown ever more acute. The percentage of elderly in America continues to swell, yet the services to care for them have not kept pace with the need. With less disposable income, working harder and longer to meet basic expenses, people struggle to provide care for their elders, and the tensions and conflicts that tear apart the families in Eldercide are if anything greater than ever.

Our society is rapidly aging, our allotted life spans growing ever longer, but at what cost? Eldercide explores ethical dilemmas most of us will face sooner or later—if we live long enough.

Does this description tempt you to buy the book? If so, why not head over to Amazon right now? Type in my name, Julie Lomoe, and you’ll see Hope Dawns Eternal and Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders as well as Eldercide. Just think: you could own all three of my published novels for less than $9.00—the price of a fair-to-middling glass of wine. And you’d earn my undying gratitude. If you do decide to click on that shopping cart icon, please let me know so I can thank you personally.

eldercidefrontcover1

Above is the cover for the original edition of Eldercide. If you see it on Amazon, don’t buy it there! I’m no longer with the original publisher, and I won’t see any of the profits. I’m still fond of the cover illustration, which I did in pastels, but I decided to go with something less terrifying, since the killer in Eldercide is kinder and gentler than he looks here. But if you’d like to buy this version with my original artwork, I still have some around. Just contact me at julielomoe@gmail.com and we’ll work it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Wanted: Guest Bloggers!

Calling all writers—how would you like to be a guest blogger on this site? And how would you like to host me on yours? Beginning Friday, April lst, I plan to start featuring fellow authors on a weekly basis.

woman writing sunny room Bonnard style

 

This spring I’ve vowed to ramp up my online presence so as to spread the word about my three published novels. When it comes to social media, I’ve been AWOL for far too long, and that has to change. Effective immediately, I’m reconnecting with the wonderful online authors’ networks I drifted away from, and I hope to discover some new ones as well.

What can you blog about? I’m especially interested in explorations of the creative process—what works for you, what doesn’t. As I wrote in my last post, I’m developing workshops on creative blocks and how to blast through them, so I welcome helpful hints and musings that focus on this area. Self-publishing and marketing are also of interest. You’ll be able to promote your own books, of course, but the emphasis will be on creativity and the ups and downs of the writing life.

brain creativity starry sky

Since I first published Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders a decade ago, there have been enormous advances in scientific research on how the brain works and how we can tap into that knowledge to enhance our own creativity and productivity. And the sophistication of online communication and networking has grown tremendously as well. I’ll delve into those topics in upcoming blogs, and I’d welcome your contributions on those subjects as well.

In my next two posts I’ll explore the role of habit in creativity, focusing on books by two authors whom I heard recently at the Writers Institute of the State University of New York at Albany: Charles Duhigg and Twyla Tharp. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog by clicking on the link in the menu on the right. I plan to publish new posts at least three times a week, and I wouldn’t want you to miss anything!

Note to authors: If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, please get in touch by writing me at julielomoe@gmail.com. I’m also looking for someone creative and not too expensive to help with a new website, and I’d be grateful for any suggestions you may have. Please include a link to your own site as well as theirs so I can check them out!

brain-exchange profiles.jpg

 

 

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